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Friday 19 September 2014

Kate Middleton takes to cricket - in heels and skirt

Tony Jones, Press Association Court Correspondent in Christ Church, New Zealand

Published 14/04/2014 | 06:53

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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge view the RNZAF Memorial Wall at Wigram Air Force Base, Christchurch during the eighth day of their official tour to New Zealand. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday April 14, 2014. Photo credit should read: Anthony Devlin/PA wire
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge view the RNZAF Memorial Wall at Wigram Air Force Base, Christchurch during the eighth day of their official tour to New Zealand. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday April 14, 2014. Photo credit should read: Anthony Devlin/PA wire
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge unveil a plaque as they view the RNZAF Memorial Wall at Wigram Air Force Base, Christchurch during the eighth day of their official tour to New Zealand. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday April 14, 2014. Photo credit should read: Anthony Devlin/PA wire
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge unveil a plaque as they view the RNZAF Memorial Wall at Wigram Air Force Base, Christchurch during the eighth day of their official tour to New Zealand. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday April 14, 2014. Photo credit should read: Anthony Devlin/PA wire

Kate Middleton was bowled over by her husband's performance on the cricket pitch.

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Kate was left grimacing in surprise when a demon delivery from William flashed inches from her face when they joined a group of youngsters and former sporting stars promoting the 2015 Cricket World Cup in Christchurch, New Zealand.

But she soon found her composure and wagged a finger at her husband, as if to tell him off during the impromptu game.

The royal couple were in Christchurch to carry out a number of engagements but the main focus was to pay their respects to victims of the devastating earthquake which struck the city on February 22 2011 leaving more than 180 people dead, and to learn about the reconstruction efforts.

William, who visited the city soon after the natural disaster struck, gave a speech during the day and described how they were moved by reminders of the earthquake and praised the "resilience and adaptability" of the people.

The royal couple, who are both sporty, happily tried batting and bowling in their formal wear - William in a suit and tie and Kate in a red Luisa Spagnoli skirt suit and three-inch heels.

Kate strode to the makeshift crease in Christchurch's Latimer Square, which was ringed by hundreds of well-wishers and was joined by former New Zealand batswoman Debbie Hockley.

After unbuttoning his suit William confidently walked to the other end and began tossing the ball a few inches in the air and chatting to New Zealand's finest cricketer, Sir Richard Hadlee.

William's first delivery was the full toss which flew close to the Duchess' head and Hockley strode forward and indicated the ball was well wide of the crease by holding out her arms.

Kate was ready for the next delivery and strode forward to hit it to short mid-off where it was fielded by one of the young cricketers.

Her husband's next ball flew past the stumps and there was a swing and a miss from his wife at the final delivery.

William then got the chance to bat with his wife acting as wicketkeeper and he showed off his skills as he faced the young cricketers. Despite writing with his left hand, the Duke batted with his right and hit one ball over the heads of the fielders then another almost out of the ground.

New Zealand is hosting the next cricket World Cup with Australia and the trophy was on display nearby and before joining the impromptu game the royal couple had a close look at the silverware.

Hockley said afterwards: "I told her, 'Don't worry about technique just smash it'. She was quite nervous but she kept her eye on the ball.

"I thought they were great sports to take part in it. I couldn't bat in high heels. She's not played before so it's a pretty good effort and she did the best she could.

Sir Richard said he had warned the Duke to be wary of the combative instructions his wife had received from Hockley.

He said: "I told him to be on guard for an onslaught and she did remarkably well, it's very difficult to play on an uneven pitch."

William gave his speech when he visited the Air Force Museum of New Zealand at Wigram, a former base in Christchurch.

Inside the museum's main exhibition hall housing historic military aircraft, the couple joined 500 people at a Future Focus lunch, organised by the Canterbury Employers' Chamber of Commerce to discuss ideas about how the city should be rebuilt.

Chamber of Commerce officials estimated the cost of rebuilding the city at 50 billion New Zealand dollars (£25 billion) including £10 million for housing and £7 billion for the central business district.

In his address the Duke also sympathised with the people of the Solomon Islands who have experienced two earthquakes in recent days and told the guest how during their tour they were "grateful for the way in which we have been made to feel so very welcome".

He said: "Here in Christchurch, I recall in 2011 hearing first hand about the courage of ordinary members of the public, first responders, the Student Army and many others in the aftermath of the devastating earthquakes.

"Both Catherine and I have found ourselves moved this morning by the reminders of how awful the second earthquake was, striking as it did out of the blue in the middle of an ordinary day.

"Something similar has now struck our neighbours in the Solomon Islands. I know that all of you will join with Catherine and me today in passing on our thoughts and prayers to the people of the Solomon Islands at this very difficult time for them.

"For you in Christchurch, it is inevitable that, after such a shocking and disruptive experience, choices about the way forward will be challenging.

"Yet, what has struck me on this visit - three years on - is the resilience and adaptability of Christchurch. Despite the daunting job ahead of you, life continues with classic Kiwi humour, creativity, innovation and determination. Christchurch remains a buzzing, thriving city."

Earlier the royal couple had visited Christchurch's CTV Building Memorial Park the site where they met families of those who died in the natural disaster.

The CTV building crumbled to the ground during the 6.1-magnitude earthquake, and its collapse was responsible for nearly two-thirds of the 185 deaths from the quake. A government report later found it was poorly designed and inadequately constructed.

William and Kate chatted to the family of Jayden Andrews-Howland, who died at the age of 15 on a bus the day before his before his birthday.

His father John Howland held a picture of his son and the royal couple listened as they told their story.

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